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Club News

International Round-Up

5 September 2017

Northern Ireland continued their superb World Cup qualifying campaign during the latest international break, collecting two victories.

Michael O'Neill's side eased to a 3-0 win away to minnows San Marino on Friday, before backing that up with a 2-0 triumph over the Czech Republic three days later.

Those results stretched their run of competitive wins to five and secured second place in Group C, almost certainly guaranteeing them a play-off place for next year's finals.

Just as impressively, they have now kept seven clean sheets in eight qualification matches - the only two goals they have conceded being scored by world champions Germany.

Central to that is City goalkeeper Michael McGovern, who has monopolised his nation's number one shirt after starring at Euro 2016.

The recent international fixtures also saw Nelson Oliveira return to the Portgual squad after a lengthy absence, being recalled by Head Coach Fernando Santos.

Oliveira made an instant impact when coming off the bench against The Faroe Islands in Group B on Thursday, netting within minutes to complete a 5-1 victory.

The forward was then an unused substitute on Sunday as Portgual won 1-0 in Hungary, a result which saw them consolidate second-place behind Switzerland.

In Group D, Saturday saw fellow Canaries Wes Hoolahan and Marley Watkins left as unused subtitutes for Ireland and Wales respectively.

Ireland drew 1-1 away to Georgia while Wales edged to a 1-0 success over Austria, leaving the race for qualification finely poised going into Tuesday's matches.

Hoolahan was promoted to the starting XI for Ireland's home clash with Serbia, playing just over an hour as they fell to a potentially damaging 1-0 defeat.

Meanwhile, Watkins continues to wait for his international debut after once again remaining on the bench as his country won 2-0 away to Moldova.

Wales move above Ireland as a result, with the two teams meeting in the final round of fixtures next month.

The last of the senior action came in Group F, where Scotland collected a pair of victories to boost their hopes of reacing the tournament in Russia.

Gordon Strachan's men stroll to an excellent 3-0 win in Lithuania on Friday, with Russell Martin, Steven Naismith and Grant Hanley all unused substitutes for The Scots.

They then beat Malta 2-0 at Hampden Park on Monday, with Hanley coming off the bench to play the final 30 minutes.

Finally, Angus Gunn played the entirety of England Under-21s' European Qualifier against The Netherlands on Friday - a game which finished 1-1.

The City goalkeeper was then named on the bench for Tuesday's meeting with Latvia, The Three Lions coasting to a routine victory.


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